Pavel's 5X5

Unforunately the search engine is gone right now otherwise I might not have to ask this. Anyone have any more details on Pavel’s 5X5 program other than you should keep the rest periods between 1-2 minutes? That is all I could find on it by searching the mag itself. What kind of split does he advocate, excercises, etc.? Does he mean 5X5 for the same excercise or total per body part? If it is for the same excercise, how many sets/excercises should you do per body part? Any info you guys have on this program will help. Thanks.

Pavel doesn’t use a 5x5 system like Bill Starr and Poliquin recommend. He has something similar. He uses the 3-5 Method. You do 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps using 3-5 exercises working out 3-5 days a week and resting 3-5 minutes between exercises. If you want to be strong, then this is what you would do. Also, he recommends doing the same exercise more often. He usually says something like “One set of five everyday is better than five sets of five once a week.” Which means you could do benches, squats and deads three to five days a week, but only do a few sets. Also he NEVER recommends going to failure! EVER! He also recommends that you save a few reps. This is also true for his “Ladders” method. For example, if you are lifting a weight you can only do for five reps, then he recommends only doing three reps.

If you want to use the low reps to get bigger, then you are talking about his Russian Bear Method. That involves taking a weight that you can do for 5-6 reps and do one set. Then do 90% of that weight for your second set for 5-6 reps. On the third set, you use 80% of that weight for 5-6 reps. Then for the remainder sets, you use that weight and take short rest breaks (30-45 seconds) and continue doing it for as many sets as it takes before you cannot make 5-6 reps in good form. So it may take you five sets, or it may take you 20 sets. That's pretty much how the Russian Bear Method works.

Thanks Nate,
Yeah I was looking at how to use it to grow bigger. So the Russian Bear method is what I’m looking for.

There are a couple of things I forgot to ask for clarification on the Russian Bear Method. Is it still the same amount of excercises and split as for the strength training, i.e. 3-5 excercises per body part 3-5 times a week or is the volume cut back a bit? Basically how many excercises per body part and how often does he say to do them? Also, does he have any tempo to follow or just standard? Thanks again. -Steve

Steve, this is what was said in Pavel’s book. “Because of the increased work load, you may have to reduce your training frequency somewhat, but restrain yourself from cutting back too much.” Pavel recommends “mulitiple set, low rep, three-sessions-for-each-lift-per-week workouts.” So pick a few basic exercises (squat, bench, chin up) or (deadlifts, dips, rows) and follow the above method.

For clarification on the sets, he gives an example. For your first set, let's say you can do 100lbs for five reps. Do that. On the second set, you reduce to 90% of the first set (90x5). Then reduce to 80% of the first set and do that for 10-20 sets until you cannot do it in good form (80x5,5,5,5,5,5,5,etc). Also, you must lift SLOWLY. He talks about how tension is the key. So you must do slow negative and positive lifts. He doesn't give any specific tempos, but I would say lower on a 4-5 second count. I hope that helps! Let me know of your progress!

Cool, thanks again. So basically 3 total body workouts a week with no isolation work. No arms, calves, abs, etc.? It sounds like a pretty short workout too. Should get in and out of there quick. And one last thing, how often does he say to change the excercises. I only plan on doing it for three or four weeks and not until after I’ve done some higher rep and volume training. I think this kind of program would make a great follow up to the higher volume/rep training.

Lil’ Bear (aka Steve)…hey, bro, I’m not the Dogg with the all-knowing powers of Nate, but I have been looking into the Bear program lately–via Pavel’s website, as I don’t have the book. Pavel seems to not favor particular splits or frequency really, and is pretty loose in his recommendations. I’ve seen some people talk about adapting the program into a bodybuilding split (which I would be interested in) where they trained four or five different lifts. But it seems the majority stick to bench press, deadlifts, and barbell curls, training 3 or so times a week, but not each lift at each session.

I know this is rather confusing....but I'm not sure if you'd really be able to handle 3 exercises at 5x20 in one session, maybe two. Maybe consider adopting a typical BB split, and choosing an exercise for each bodypart. Let me see if I can't find some typical examples and get back to you if you're interested.

Yeah I’d be interested. I was thinking of adapting it anyway to do the whole body with a more regular split. Maybe 2 excercises per bodypart. I was trying to take some ideas from Poliquin’s maximal weights (5X5) and incorporate it. Maybe we should all work together to come up with a kick ass split and workout. That would be great!:slight_smile:

Steve, it seems like it would be a decent program…I wonder if any other guys out there–Jay or NaturalMan, maybe–have tried this or something similar. Definitely check out the forum at Pavel’s website (dragondoor)…it’ll definitely help out. I’m still trying to figure some things out, but the best way is probably thru hands on experience.

After reading his articles and checking out his site I did the following programme between “planned programs” for a change. 4days 1+3 were A= 5 sets Bench supersetted with ladder style pull ups, set1 90% 5rm then other sets at 80% rests were 5,4,3,2,1 mins. B= 5 sets deads s/set with ladder dips. Days 2+4 were same reps + rest type but A=Squatts/pull ups B=side press/dips. Was good for a change but was only about 3 weeks so can’t really draw too many conclusions from it.

The whole talk about 5 sets of 5 training was floating around the halls at school when I decided to try it.
The basics were five sets of five with 30 seconds of rest.
I modified it a bit and ended up gaining at least 10-15 pounds of drug free mass (a little tribex, a little ZMA).
Basically I was on a four day split:
Mon Back/Chest-3 exercises each, never to failure
Tues Arms (unilateral)-3 sets of each tris/bis never to failure
Wed rest
Thursday Legs 3 exercises overall (I was having knee problems so I had to cut back)
Fri Shoulders/Arms (unilateral)
Sat/Sun Rest.
At that point I had no idea about the complex nature of the true 5x5 training. I did about 6 weeks of it and became noticably bigger and about 10-20% stronger depending on the lift.
bear in mind that I was almost completely detrained about 8 weeks before that 9working out once week)so the weight gain was partly out of shock but I think anyone who gives this a go could gain at least 5 pounds if they’re eating.
With that said can any of you guys give me a hand with where I can download some info on both 5x5 training and Pavel Tsatsouline. i’ve gone to dragonboot and myodynamics but no hardcore info just ads for his books. I swear to good when schools over I am going to ammass the largest library around, until then, I need it for free.

Hyphnz…thanks for dropping that bomb on us, kid! I appreciate it. I know I would be looking for a bit more volume and would like to incorporate a more bodybuilding-friendly split (ie. 1. Chest/Bis; 2. Thighs; 3. Back/Tris; 4. Shoulders or something along those lines), choosing a big daddy maneuver for each bodypart and would probably make it look like this: set 1 5x5RM (rest 3min), set 2 5x90% (rest 3min), sets 3-?(till I’m outta gas) 5x80%…of course, you don’t have to stick with EXACTLY 80% for the remaining sets…you can–and it may be of benefit–to wave up and down above this weight for a few sets.

I think we can get away with training more in a day than we think using this Russian Bear method. I was looking over Poliquin’s Maximal weights again. I mean even following his 5X5 he doesn’t expect you to be able to do all 5 reps for five sets right away. So I really don’t think any excercise will take more than 7 or so sets to fatigue the muscle adequately. Unless, of course, you have a lot of slow twitch fibers, in which case you probably wouldn’t grow much from low reps anyway. I like a rolling 5 day split for this. Pairing Chest/Back on Day 1, Legs and Abs on day 2, and Arms and Shoulders on Day 4, both day 3 and 5 off then repeating. I think two excercises per body part would work well. However, after getting to the 80% of 1RM sets on set 3 I’d wait 30-60 secs on smaller movements between sets and 45-90 on the larger ones. For Chest/Back I’d do Dumbell Incline Presses, followed by either Wide Grip or Close Grip Parallel Pullups. Then I’d do Bench Press with the bar, follwed by Bent over rows. On Legs and Abs day. I’ll leave the Ab training up to you, I don’t think I’ll follow the “Bear” protocol for abs. For legs I’d do Squats followed by Deadlifts or vice versa depending upon whether or not you want to focus on quads or hams. Then if you really wanted to hit them hard you could do Leg Presses followed by stiff legged deadlifts. For calves do any excercise of your choice following the “Bear” method. For arms and shoulders I’d do Dips follwed by standing barbell curls or vice versa. Then I’d do lying decline dumbell extentsions followed by incline hammer curls. For shoulders, do behind the neck presses. I would probably throw these in before the second set of arm excercises just so the tris don’t get over fatigued, but it is up to you. If you really want, and time permits add a few sets of five of lateral raises at the end to really fatigue the shoulders. Also you can add any forearm isolation, if you do any, here as well. Try to limit the workout to under an hour. I think it should be but I haven’t tried it yet so who knows. As always with Pavel’s workouts don’t go to failure. If you decide to do this for more than 3 weeks I’d change the excercises, but I don’t plan on doing it for longer than that so this is my plan. Let me know what you guys think of this split. All comments/suggestions are welcome.

Steve…your program sounds like it could be solid and I see the rationale behind it. I think it’s important to look at things, when setting it up, from an overall volume perspective. What I mean is, if you do end up getting to 20 sets of 5, then I don’t see a need for attempting the same with another exercise. Maybe set a range or reps that you’d like to achieve in a particular workout, or the number of reps that you think are optimal for hypertrophy…but it’s probably best to listen to your body during the actual training session. If you’re fried, you’re fried. If you’ve got more in the tank then go at it. As far as your split goes, were you planning on alternating exercises on a set by set basis or do each exercise to fatigue and then continue with the next? I think that it would be paramount to go to fatigue for a particular exercise before switching over to the next. I agree, though, that 20 sets is a hella lot unless you’re a slow-twitch sumbitch! I see myself be good-to-go after 10 or less–at the beginning anyway. I do think 30-60 seconds between the 80% sets is a good guideline, but 90 may be a better choice if squats or deads are in the mix. Try it out, as that’s what I plan on doing, and we’ll take it from there:-)

BigRob...thanks for the bomb of knowledge, bro. I would be interested in hearing a bit more about load selection, total volume/workout, exercise selection and those type of protocols, if you wouldn't mind:-) Thanks.

Here’s some basics on Pavle’s pure bodybuilding recomendations. One body part per day, two exercises. Train each body part once a week. Train it ala bear style. Pick movements that recruit the most muscle fiber per exercise (Big compound movements). Sets per exercise range from 10-20 depending on fatigue. The point is to acheive a pump with heavy weights. No set is ever taken to failure. Don’t worry about the volume. the rest periods for the backend sets are only 30 secs to 1 min. Besides after the first exercise you’ll find yourself unable to do many sets on the second before stopping short of fatigue. I’m assuming that you know the parameters of the first two bear sets and then the remaining sets. The trade off in frequency does not make this an optimal pure strength program. It is strictly for bodybuiling. Get the 4th edition of the Sports supplement review. I understand that it has a rather comprehensive program by Pavel.

Guys, don’t worry about the volume. At 30 sec. rest intervals you’ll be able to fit alot in 45 min to an hour. The sets are not strict reccomendations. The main thing to go by is local muscular fatigue. By the second exercise you may only get in five sets before you have to call it a day. That is absolutely fine. In fact, if you find yourself doing 20 sets on the second exercise you’re probably lifting too light and resting too long. Just so everyone is clear on the bear. 1st set: 5 reps with a weight you could have just gotten 6 with, 2nd set 90% of the first set. Take a 3 minute break after the 1st and second set. The remaing sets are done with around 80 percent of the first set. However, you should wave the sets from 70-80 percent. At this point you’re resting 30-60 sec.(try for 30).

Good points everyone! Naturalman when you say one bodypart a day do you mean just bis or arms as a whole, and so on? If it is just bis,etc. the split would definitely have to be modified. What do you think of the split I outlined above? I really tried to incorporate some of Poliquin’s ideas in there w/ Maximal weights. Any advice again from anyone is appreciated. One more thing, what is the workout Pavel has in the supp. review like? Is it more of a bodybuilding or strength workout, or a little of both? Thanks again for everyone’s input.

Au Natural(man)…I was waiting for ya to chime in, big guy! Thanks for the response and input, as it’s always appreciated;-) You know, I like the idea of taking this Bear for a test drive–and actually plan on it tomorrow–but what kind of tickles me is that the scope of this, and all Pavel’s methods, is to lift the heavy weights, but if you really look at the load of the 3 thru ? sets, the load is only around 70% 1RM…which is for the average trainee is a load equivalent to about a 12RM…that was just a thought of mine. Thanks for re-outlining the Bear program, Natural. Thanks for giving Pavel’s philosophy on bodybuilding training. I actually got a copy of the Sports Supp Review at the Arnold…Pavel’s reccommendations for bodybuilding are not very similar to the Bear or any of his other programs, except that failure is to be avoided. He basically pushes pyramiding and volume training. So that’s interesting. I could post some of the goodies from there if anyone is interested. I am going to try it out. It should be fun…what I’m planning is sticking to doing Chest and Biceps…doing Incline Benches first, EZ Bar Curls, then another Chest movement (DB Benches) ala the Bear. Of course, this is theoretical at this point, as I have no idea how my bod will respond and will base everything on how the session goes.

Timbo let us know how it goes. I’d be interested in hearing your results.

Let’s see if I can eloborate.
Load selection: At the time I was trying to balance out my overall strength. Back was lagging behind chest and bi’s behind tri’s so the weaker body parts got worked at a slightly higher intensity. I used loads that were near equivalent to my 6RM (sometimes 5RM with more rest, Sometimes 7-8RM with less). Generally I was looking for a weight that allowed me to complete 5X5 with 30 seconds of rest in between.
Total Volume: This is where I may have screwed up. At first, I was doing 20 total sets fo large muscle groups. WAAAAAY overtrained. Blood shoot eyes, foggy all the time. However it did cut me up and I lost no strength. Eventually I cut things down to 15 total sets per body part. This amounted to 30 sets per workout, but because of the 30 second rest intervals, my longest workout was only 75 mins. One thing I didn’t do then that I’m doing now is taking a weight that I can’t necessarily do a full 5X5 set and try to progress ala Poloquin.

Exercise Selection:
I had just read an article by the King (Ian King) about muscle balance so first all my back, arms, and some of my leg exercises were done unilaterally. This limited my selection of exercises but Hammer Strength Iso-Row was a staple. Any time I Trained chest, I trained Back in the same plain (Horizontal Abduction, Extension) and any time I trained shoulders, I trained Back inthe same plain (Adduction). Therefore, chest and shoulders had to be spaced appropriately. Back was heavier on chest day than shoulder day. As far as legs went, patello-femoral syndrome caused me to take some time off. So what I did was get a swiss ball and learn to stand, then jump on to and squat on. I have the adductors of Monica Brandt’s dreams as a result. Still who needs adductors anyway? I think squats and deadlifts are the best.
I hope that’s all questions answered.
Easy, brother